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Texas woman sues over denied FMLA leave

A resident of Montgomery County, Texas recently filed a lawsuit against her former employer, a local hospital. The lawsuit alleges that the hospital prevent her from taking leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, which provides for unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks each year and prohibits employers from interfering with that leave or retaliating against employees who take the leave.

The Montgomery County woman was working at the hospital when her leukemia returned and she needed extra flexibility with her shifts in order to seek treatment. According to the complaint, one of her bosses immediately began to try to remove her from the staff when he discovered that she was ill again and seeking FMLA leave.

In addition to denying requests to alter the staffing schedule to accommodate her doctor's appointments, the woman's boss also made her jump through extra hoops to file for FMLA leave. Once the human resources department intervened the medical leave was approved, but the woman was fired immediately after that. Her boss cited the reason for her termination as a rude phone exchange, although the plaintiff denies that this occurred and says that the firing was motivated by a desire to stop her from taking her leave.

If that allegation is true, then the conduct by the supervisor appears to constitute illegal retaliation. Employees are protected from retaliation in situations where they are exercising a workplace right.

More information about illegal retaliation and rights under the Family Medical Leave Act is available on our Texas employment law website.

Source: Southeast Texas Record, "Hospital employee sues over denial of FMLA," John Suayan, August 21, 2012.

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